App Store Localization: A Complete Guide

App Store Localization Guide

Diving into app store localization is crucial for unlocking growth in global markets on the app stores. With the Google Play Store supporting 51 languages and iOS backing 30, there’s a vast world waiting to discover your app. Taking a targeted approach based on language and territory can transform your app’s growth trajectory, boosting visibility and enhancing conversion rates in your target markets.

However, it’s no doubt a daunting task, and if you are new to app store localization, prioritising your efforts for maximum return is essential. That’s why we have put together our complete guide to app store localization. We’ll be covering best practise localization strategies for visibility and conversion optimisation. Additionally, we’ll be delving deep into Super Geo cross-localization tactics, so you have an actionable roadmap for getting your app store listings primed for growth in your target markets.  .

What is app store localization

Let’s start with the basics. Localization within the context of the app store is the ability to adapt your app store listing to target additional geographical markets outside of your home market. This deliberate market expansion is one of the biggest benefits of app store localization. By delivering a unique experience to a new region, this will increase the apps visibility and further on its conversion rate. Research has shown that for app users, 78% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase if the online store is localized.  

If you choose not to localize your listing, then the app store will automatically show your default (home) listing. It is always recommended to add the localized listing to best optimize your users’ experience. Just think about it – if you haven’t even bothered to translate the on-page copy to their native language, there is a high chance of drop off. 

You can adapt the following elements of your listing to your target market:  

  • Title 
  • Subtitle 
  • Icon 
  • Images 
  • Promotional text 
  • Description 
  • Keywords 

You may think that your home app store listing will effectively convert users anywhere in the world as long as it’s in English, or directly translating your title, subtitle, and keywords into the primary language of your additional market. App store localization goes deeper than this.  

Every country’s users’ needs are different, and may have completely diverse cultures/interests that you would need to adapt to. For example, in the West, blue is a very popular colour for finance brands which would come across as crass in Southeast Asian countries, where blue is commonly linked to death and mourning. If you directly look at the icons in the app stores in Japan, you’ll see more of a skew towards oranges, greens, whites and reds. Having an on-the-ground understanding of cultural nuances is essential to ensure you are speaking authentically to your new target market. 

Right: four western finance apps, Left: four Japanese finance apps

How to localize your app store creative

As we have already covered, ensuring your app store creatives are localised is essential for driving up your conversion rates. That means your screenshots, icons, videos and In-app Events or Promotional Content need to speak to your target market. There are many things to consider like colours, design styles, imagery, demographic, language, currencies and more! 

A brilliant example of adapting to its target markets is Spotify’s app store listings. Spotify has effectively localized its listing to markets where their most valuable users are situated. The level of its localizations is advanced, as it goes one step beyond just translation to culturalizing the listing for a variety of its English-speaking markets.  

This is evident in its UK vs. US listing. The UK app store listing presents screenshots that reference a British podcast with the headline: ‘Hot Hits UK’ and the UK subtitle states ‘Listen to Songs and Playlists’. For the US App Store listing, the creative references well known American podcasts as well as a ‘Viva Latino’ playlist with the subtitle ‘Discover the latest songs’.  

It is clear here that Spotify have considered the content, keywords and cultural references that resonate within each market to ensure the app store is as personalised and compelling as possible for its target market. The aim is to ramp up your conversion rates, but also to improve the discovery of relevant and trending keywords for your specific market. Just because the UK and USA are both English speaking markets, doesn’t mean that their listening habits, keyword searches and vernacular don’t differ. Catering to these differences is what will make your localization efforts truly stand out. 

How to localize your app store metadata

Improving keyword ranking is another one of the largest benefits you can gain from localization. Firstly, not all your competitors will be localizing for different regions and therefore you will have lower competition when ranking for certain keywords. Impacting you keyword conversion rate is going to have a significantly positive impact on the app store algorithms.  

In the same vein, it is important to change your metadata as certain keywords may be more appealing to a unique market. This is especially important if you are localizing to a country whose users speak a different language, as presenting a title and subtitle in the target market’s local language is much more attractive. With Spotify, their Spanish listing has been translated, including their title and subtitle, to Spanish. The Spanish subtitle reads ‘Download songs with Premium’ instead of ‘Discover the latest songs’ which is on the US store listing. It must have seen, through multiple tests and variations, that this subtitle has a far more positive outcome (and potentially an audience where conversion to premium subscription is more of a focus) in Spain than the US. 

When it comes to improving your conversion rate through localization tactics, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get it right the first time and have it fully optimized. The best way to improve your app store localization is through A/B testing. By swapping out titles, subtitles and creatives, you can find out what attracts your new audience. It is important to keep testing what works to fully optimise your app store localization to that specific region. Check out our blog on how to best use A/B testing to learn more.

Source: UK, US and Spanish iOS App Store Listing for Spotify

How to prioritise your app store localization

When thinking about where to localize your app first, we would recommend using analytics that you can find in your app store console to find out which countries/regions have high impression rate. For example, if you see that there is a large impression spike in particular markets, you may want to then delve deeper and figure out what the growth opportunities are for the market. You may also want to assess whether your competitors are successful in that region. Because if they are this is a good indicator that your app will also be successful. Alternatively, your roadmap may be completely dependent on a new country roll-out – in which case you can align your localization efforts with your wider business goals. 

Ramp up your app store localization efforts with Super Geos

One of the problems with trying to rank in the iOS app store is the limited character length for keyword optimisation. In your title you can use 30 characters, for the subtitle you can use 30 characters and for your back-end keywords you can utilise 100 characters. This overall gives you only 160 characters that you can use to help you rank higher for important keywords in your category. This may mean you would be missing out on certain keywords that would help your app stand out from your competitors and help you rank higher overall. But there is a way around this, which we call Super Geo localizations here at Yodel Mobile. 

This is a method of cross localizing your app store listing, which allows you to rank for more keywords by using indexed languages for a specific region to impact another. For example, in the United Kingdom the primary language is English (UK) but, the Apple algorithm indexes keywords for this listing from optimisations made in other languages and territories. One of these languages for the UK is Russian. Now, if Russia is not a market that you are optimising for, you can forgo fully optimising this listing to drive Russian users and instead start using the available characters for English keywords to impact your English (UK) listing – this gives you an extra 160 characters to optimise your English iOS app store listing for.   

Super Geo localization best practises

There are some best practises we recommend when it comes to Super Geo localizations. We typically recommend not repeating words in either your title, subtitle or back-end keywords to use this method most effectively.  

However, the algorithm won’t be able to cross analyse long tail keywords across the cross localizations, so some words may need to be repeated because of this. For instance, if you are Bumble you would want to make sure that important keywords like ‘dating’ are repeated in both languages for their English (USA) Super Geo localisation, which also indexes the Spanish (Mexico) keywords. If they didn’t do this Bumble wouldn’t rank for long tail keywords like ‘online dating’ or ‘dating apps’.  You can see below that Bumble have carried over this word in their title and subtitle so to still rank for these long tail keywords in both countries. 

Specifically for the US there are far more indexed languages than any other country. In fact there are 9 available that you can cross-localize for.  If you were to use just four of these extra language indexs, as shown below, you would increase your maximum keyword count from 160 to 800. 

Four indexed languages adding 640 keywords to the English (US) store listing

This allows your app to rank for more relevant keywords. In one case study, by just adding two Super Geos to a clients US store listing, their ranked keywords increased by 180.5% and their daily search impressions increased by an amazing 22,345.9%. Following on this action had a positive impact on both ranked keywords as well as KPIs. 

Conclusion

Navigating the world of App Store localization is crucial for any app looking to reach a global audience. This isn’t just about translating language—it’s about finely tuning keywords, refining visuals, and harnessing the power of cross-localization to enhance visibility. Always remember that the process doesn’t end when you put up the new app store listing. You must continue to always improve your new regions app store listing depending on seasons or even events that your app may be able to take advantage of.  

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧